Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Has Kept Us Sane This Season.

Countless hours of playing games.

"Mama, sit down on a couch and watch us play games". You don't have to ask me twice. What a difference a year makes.



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Crafts, Springtime Thoughts

I woke up this morning to David screaming "It is snowing outside". So, I decided it was only appropriate to do a winter craft with the kids today.

I found a craft idea in Family Fun magazine on making snowflakes. We glued 3 craft sticks together in the middle and "decorated" them by gluing on buttons. Those snowflakes could easily be used as Christmas tree decorations by passing a thread through a hole in a button located at the edge of a snowflake. Maybe next year.




Both Julia and David loved making their snowflakes. Unfortunately, the only buttons I had available were very tiny, so I worried that the kids, especially Julia, would get frustrated using them. Surprisingly, they both did really well. Julia used a bit too much glue, but I expected from past experience. (I remember a few months ago David used a half of glue bottle on one little project.)





After Julia was done, she decided to add a fourth stick. When she reached for the fifth stick, she said "Mom, it looks like a flower. It needs a stem." Hmmm... Very clever. So, we glued a fifth stick to the bottom, so as to look as a stem. She was so proud of herself and showed it to Seth as soon as he came home.



And then there was David's flower. When he saw Julia adding a stem, he decided to do the same. He didn't complete it, however. When he works on a project, he gets so absorbed in the task to the point that I won't hear a sound coming from him. When he's had enough and decides he's done, then you know he's done. He told me he was tired and he then moved on to other things.



I'll be definitely filing this project under Christmas crafts and making a couple of snowflake decorations later this year.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Projects Around Here.

Two months of winter are behind us and we've accomplished quiet a bit. Julia and David are quite the pros at playing games; anything from Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Dominos, Go Fish and half a dozen of others. Julia insists on playing games from the time she gets up in the morning until she goes to bed. By now I know the sequence of colors on Candy Land and no wonder as we play it at least ten times a day. David joins us on occasion, although he's a bit bored of playing these games. (I need to find some more advanced games for him.)



We build and build and build.



I've "borrowed" a few craft ideas from Rambling of a Crazy Woman and the kids seemed to really enjoy doing these projects. For example, we played with some shaving cream and paints today, stirring them with a craft stick. David really enjoyed making this mess and ended up using his fingers instead, pretending that he was first doing dishes and then writing letters with his finger.








Taking an idea from the above-mentioned blog, I created an alphabet matching game. Using a cookie cutter, I cut out 52 mitten cut-outs. On one half of them, I wrote upper-case letters. On the other half I wrote lower-cased letters. The idea was for the kids had to match upper letters with the lowers ones. David was done after a few minutes as it wasn't much of a challenge for him. For Julia, it took a lot longer and she eventually gave up. Every time I open this game, she insists on playing Wiggles Matching game which is a lot easier and not much thinking is involved...



The kids also enjoyed gluing craft sticks to outlined shapes, numbers or letters. They were so preoccupied doing this that they created a total of over hundred letters, shapes and numbers during the course of a few days.







Even though David has plenty of notebooks to draw and write in, he prefers writing on little notepads (featured in the above picture). He collected a few of these pages with his drawings on them and he told me today that he drew them for his grandma. I am thinking of making a little book out of these drawings with him, so stay tune for the finale of that project.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We Are Dreaming of Rainbows.

While we are staring at this out of our window,



Julia and David are dreaming (and painting) of rainbows.




Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birthday, Gifts and Knots.

This weekend we celebrated 4th Birthday of a very special boy. David and I met his mom, Sadaf, and Jordan when he was only 6 months old in our local park. Sadaf and I bonded quickly as we were both stay-at-home moms, both new to NJ and a few months later we were both expecting our daughters who are only 20 days apart. As I was filling out a card for Jordan, so many memories came rushing in. We both used to bring our boys to the rec center for their gym classes, Jordan used to come over to our house and practice his walking on our soft carpet and Sadaf and I used to meet up in a park and walk together while pushing the boys in their strollers trying to loose those post pregnant pounds. Even though our schedules are different now, the boys are in different schools, we still keep in touch, go out and have occasional playdates. Julia will be joining her daughter, Mina, in a school next September which I am looking forward to because I'll be seeing my friend more often and Julia will hopefully make a friend for life. I feel very melancholic about these past years as the boys were so adorable and cute (they still are, but in a different way), I had almost a naive perception of a motherhood and I had no clue how easy it was. So, today we had a great day bowling, riding a train, bouncing, eating lots of pizza and ice cream cake (the cake must have been really good since when asked Julia if she could share it with me, she yelled back "Go away!"). Happy Birthday, Jordan! 4 already?
While the kids were napping or so I thought, I started wrapping up the gifts. Then I realized that I had neither a big enough bag to fit them in nor a string to tie them together. So, since I had a lot of blue yarn, I decided to knit a string. Didn't work either since it would have taken me longer to knit than I had time for. Scratch that idea, move to another. I decided to braid it. Five minutes into it, David came downstairs and asked if he could help me. His help started irritating me as he would write his name on the little notepads and insist on taping them to the gift boxes. Somewhere I read that kids like cutting strings, so I told him to cut some leftover strings into different length. That lasted less than a minute. But then he decided to wrap a string around each box. I saw how much he wanted to "help" me that I let him. I decided that since Jordan is just like any 3 or 4 year old boy, he won't pay much attention to how well or neatly a gift is wrapped.
And then I noticed that not only was David wrapping a gift, he was trying to tie a knot.



I have never shown him hot to tie a knot, but then I have never shown him how to zip a jacket or turn his clothes inside out and he does it, he learned it on his own. I always purchase him shoes with velcros on them for a few reasons. I don't want to be bothered tying his shoes and I want him to feel as though he is a big, independent boy getting dressed all by himself. I don't think he ever had any shoes with shoe laces, but it might be time for them.



So, there it is, his first knot.



I don't remember right now if I took that piece of string off, but as I said before, I doubt Jordan paid much attention to the "accessories" of his wrapping paper. And his mom? She might, but considering Sadaf's got a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I can be assured she stopped questioning odd things a long time ago.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sledding.

After last year's snow melted, the kids kept asking when they can build another snowman and go sledding again. Today they got a chance to do just that.





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Two hours later David was ready to head home while Julia was screaming to stay. That was quite a change from last time when she couldn't wait to go inside. Or maybe it is because she was pulled back up the hill on a sled while David had to walk and pull his own sled. Either way, both kids had a great time and we are already looking forward to more snow.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bedtime Story Time.

Story time has become an important part of our children's life, especially at night. At any given time, we have between 30-50 books out from the library and we read as many as half that number in a single day. Although the kids love stories, whether we're reading to them or they're paging through the books themselves, they quickly memorize portions of the books and they know the plots by heart.

Seth likes to shake things up every so often. He'll leave the books in the shelves, grab the chalkboard, and come up with a story on the fly, often involving the kids to shape the characters and the plot. The kids seem to enjoy this change from their usual evening routine; perhaps a bit too much. In fact, the kids are so entertained, that the only time I see the same look on our kids' faces are when they are watching TV. As Seth created his stories, the kids sat quietly with intense looks on their faces.


So tonight, as the collection of library books sat next to the hundred or so of our own books, Seth created a story of his own. Tonight's story was about Julia and I taking David to his school in a rocket ship.


But it doesn't bring us to his school. Instead it heads to Saturn to take him to a new school. That is, until David pressed the wrong button!


The ship started spinning out of control, crashing into the moon. Julia pressed another button and saved the day, sending the ship back home where it landed on the roof of our home.


The story actually included a lot more details, getting the kids involved throughout. Seth would draw buttons that the kids could press which changed the story in one way or another or changing the behavior of the spaceship.

Another story involved the kids visiting the zoo with the objective of seeing a couple of animals. Seth drew arrows on the board and let the kids choose the direction they wanted to take which took them to different animals that they selected from a deck of cards with pictures of animals on them. Some of the animals would communicate while others would give directions to get to other animals.

Neither kid wanted the stories to end and begged for them to continue, even when it was an hour past their intended bedtime.

Monday, January 5, 2009

His Latest Obsession(s).

So, what's David into nowadays? It is hard to keep up with him as his interests can change daily. One day he'll be submerged into music, and the next day it'll be sports (tennis, baseball, soccer or basketball for example) and the next day it might be reading. On some days, it might be building.




When he gets interested in something, his interest will be so peaked that he will devote so much time and energy into the activity.

Lately, his mind has been preoccupied with coloring ... all the time.


About two weeks ago, when I went to pick up David from day care, I found him sitting by himself at a table away from the other kids. His back was towards me and he seemed disinterested in circle time where all the other kids had conjugated. On expressing my concern to the teacher I happened to notice that he was actually coloring. The teacher explained to me that during arts and crafts, while everyone was scribbling all over their menorahs, David was taking his time to draw between the lines. So while the other kids proceeded to circle time, David had insisted on finishing. Julia and I ended up waiting another 15 minutes for him to finish.

When David begins to color, he'll choose the markers he'll use before he starts on a picture. When he finishes the picture to his satisfaction, he'll close all the markers and put them back into their jar.

After we came home from school today, he ran straight to his table where I keep his pencils, markers, and papers easily available for the kids, and on finding his coloring book, he started coloring. I couldn't even get him away from the table for lunch. "Five more minutes, mom!"
He actually rushed through his lunch and ran back to his table to finish coloring. An hour and ten minutes later, he finally got his nose out of that coloring book. This is what he's been doing all this time.



That is a significant change from just 4 months ago:


I was so happy with him today that I didn't even put him down for his nap. Instead, we read for an hour. (His favorite books nowadays are the ones from the "If You Give A..." series.) We then followed the reading by playing a few games, putting together a large "planet" puzzle and played with his new indoor basketball hoop.

Before he went to sleep tonight, instead of the usual stories he hears, he preferred coloring two more pictures.




During one of his coloring "sessions" last weekend, I started talking to him about his school. One of the teachers he really liked had left the school and he had a new teacher. I proceeded to ask him how he liked his new teacher. The conversation shocked me; not only for the emotion behind his words, but for the clarity for which he expressed them:

David: Mom, Ms. Lorraine doesn't talk to me.
Me: She doesn't?
David: No, she talks to other kids. Only Ms. Jessica and Ms. Grace talk to me.
Me: All right, I'll talk to her and ask her to talk to you too.
David: Okay. Go to school on Monday and tell Ms. Lorraine "Ms. Lorraine, David loves you. Talk to him, please.".

I don't know what breaks a parent's heart more, having a child who doesn't talk or one who uses his words to express his sadness. I guess, I'll take the later anytime of the day.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

... from our family to yours.